Worthy Wage Day 2017

Worthy Wage Day is a national day of action held annually in May since 1992. The event is part of an ongoing effort in communities across the country to raise public awareness of:

  • The low wages earned by early childhood educators;
  • The impact the teacher retention crisis has on young children; and
  • The chronic public underfunding for early education.

In addition to raising awareness, Worthy Wage Day calls on lawmakers and communities to commit to finding solutions to unjust compensation in early education. A fair and vibrant economy should not mean poverty wages for vast numbers of early educators.

This year, Worthy Wage Day kicks off a week of activism beginning with the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools Day of Action on May 1, when community allies nationwide will join educators to mobilize against hate and for the neighborhood public schools and early learning services all children deserve.

Thank an early childhood educator today!

Worthy Wage Day

On Worthy Wage Day, the American Federation of Teachers calls attention to the importance of early childhood education and the dedication of its workforce. Every year, educators adopt a playful but poignant theme to highlight the need for worthy wages for early educators. In past years, educators delivered peanuts and play dough to members of the U.S. Congress, saying “We shouldn’t work for peanuts!” and “We can’t make it with ‘play-dough!’”

Word has spread: The AFT’s “Worthy Wage quilt” was featured on an audience segment of NBC’s “Today” show with the message, “We’re hanging by a thread!” Thousands of early educators have signed the quilts displayed at Head Start and the National Association for the Education of Young Children conferences, and at the AFT’s professional development conference, TEACH, as well as the AFT national convention.

Although research and official policy now support the importance of early education, families and early educators continue to struggle:

  • Poverty-level wages are driving experienced early childhood educators from the field.
  • A new report from the Economic Policy Institute shows that tax cuts alone are not the answer to America's early childhood education and care problem. Without groundbreaking public investment, crushing child care costs will continue to hurt working families and early educators [www.epi.org].

Research tells us that the most important component of good early care and education is the quality and consistency of the caregiver/teacher. As long as early educators are paid low wages or poverty-level wages, we as a nation will never be able to ensure that our youngest children receive the highest-quality early care and education.

Join us as we celebrate early childhood educators and mobilize for the public revenue needed to make early learning accessible for all children.

Please read our Worthy Wage Day blog series and lend your voice to the call for worthy wages.

Related Articles

National Worthy Wage Day is jointly coordinated by the Center for the Child Care Workforce and the American Federation of Teachers.


Related resource

Please read our Worthy Wage Day blog, and join us in RECLAIMING THE PROMISE of good LEARNING environments for children and good WORKING environments for early educators.